Pistol squats progression

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Pistol squats progression

Normally I do not want to be that guy that starts to line up all the problems – I like to stay positive and try to find solutions. However, in this article, I will go against my principles.

There is not only one problem but two ????

For people who love to do bodyweight exercises, there is a problem when it comes to leg strength.

As we are bodyweight athletes, we can’t just place a barbell on our shoulders and start to do weighted squats – even though they are damn efficient and I absolutely think you should do them. Therefore we need to find another way to strengthen our legs.

The answer to that is pistol squats.

Pistol squats progression

Single leg squats, as some also like to call them, are carried out exactly as the name indicates. We squat down on one leg only and thereby put a lot more weight on the legs than when we do a normal squat. The result is that leg has to work much harder and therefore will start to develop more strength.

Great, so it seems like we solved the first problem, but I promised you two problems:-)

Pistol squats are difficult. Quite difficult actually. It took me six months to be able to do them.

The problem with the pistol squats is not only that you need to be able to hold your complete body weight on one leg but also that you have to stabilize and balance a one-legged movement. To be honest, that is where the biggest challenges are.

Ok, let’s change perspective and try to see how we can solve the issues. Let me try to walk you through a squat pistol progression template that can help you to master them.

Pistol squats progression

But before we do that, let’s just briefly get an understanding of why we want to have strong legs and why pistol squats will give you that and much more.

Maybe this is a no-brainer but let’s just repeat then.

An average American walks 5000-7000 steps a day. Even though more steps would be better, it’s still a lot of steps during a lifetime. Our legs are what makes us mobile and we, therefore, want them to work as well as possible for as long as possible.

Weak legs will often mean that our musculoskeletal system won’t work optimally. Other and often smaller muscles will have to compensate for this problem, which will cause other issues.

The muscles in our legs are some of the biggest muscles we have. , which again can help us to keep the weight.

Pistol squats progression

Benefits of mastering pistol squats

Pistol squats will give you the same benefits as above and even more.

The reason why they are so difficult is because they are what we call asymmetrical exercise. Meaning all load has to be handled on one site – in this case, one leg.

As I indicated earlier, the biggest challenge is not to hold the load as such, but when we only have one site working, the body needs to stabilize in a completely different way and therefore engage muscles differently as well.

Especially our core needs to work a lot when we do asymmetric exercises. The core is the bridge between our upper and lower body and therefore in charge of stabilizing.

Pistol squats progression

When we master pistol squats, we are able to efficiently engage these stabilization muscles which will make us stronger in different kind of movements. In a nutshell, you can say that you gain more control of your body.

We have to attack the progression from different angles.

First, we need to make sure that you have sufficient strength and range of motion to actually do a pistol squat. Then we need to work on the balance and stabilization part.

The good thing is that you don’t need to think about all that – just follow below progression template.

We need to be able to squat probably before we start to think about doing pistols squat.

Pistol squats progression

Here is what we are looking for:

Be able to squat with full range of motion and proper form

Hip goes lower than knees and as close to the ground as possible

Chest stays high and doesn’t fall forward

The whole food should be on the ground

Pistol squats progression

With proper form, we should be able to do 20 squats before we move forward.

When we master the squats, we can start to focus on one leg strength.

Everything we developed in the normal squat we should bring to the one-legged versions.

The goal of these exercises is to build more strength and at the same time get a feeling for the balance and stabilization

Bend one leg and place it behind you on an elevated surface like a bench or a chair.

Pistol squats progression

Keep same key points as in the normal squat

Actually, archer squat might be easier to start with than the Bulgarian split squats. The reason for that is, it’s less challenging when it comes to balance.

Take a wide stand like a sumo wrestler

Squat down on one leg by moving your body to the site and down.

Same key points as with normal squat

Pistol squats progression

We want to continue with the one legged squats until we have a good feeling about them.

Again being able to do 20 on each leg with a good and steady form is a great benchmark.

As we now have built up some strength and also a feeling for how to balance on one leg we should try it without support.

This exercise will have you doing a one legged squat with your full bodyweight, but as the leg doesn’t have to be extended in front of you, it will be easier than a real pistol squat.

Step up on a stable high surface where one leg can hang freely without touching the ground when squatting down.

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